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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Karlskrona - Ystad (15 August 2017)

Our return trip to "Whileaway" took 23 hours. I had booked return flights from Stockholm earlier in the summer but our engine problem meant that we had ended up much further away from the capital than expected. However a late change to the airline tickets was prohibitively expensive so we flew there, had dinner then took the comfortable night sleeper train south. Unfortunately we had to change trains to a local service at 0550 but then arrived back in Karlskrona a little after 0800.
Back to Sweden, where either flag is flown by residents
We had received an email from the engine engineers saying that they had found and fixed the problem a few days before we left the UK. The first task was therefore to start and run the engine to see if I agreed! All seemed fine so I cycled off to the engineers office to pay the bill and learn that they had discovered a blocked exhaust pipe. This carries both gas and the sea water used for cooling the engine and it was the seawater element that had gradually blocked over the years. As a consequence of the problem two other rubber caps which had been put under intense pressure had also failed and had to be replaced.
So we were ready to go but the weather wasn't being accommodating! There was a strong wind blowing that morning with a forecast that showed a significant increase over the following couple of days. So we decided to stay put (and weren't the only ones!); and indeed by early Saturday morning the boat was rocking and rolling even in the harbour as winds reached F6 gusting F8 (over 30 knots). But we had plenty to enjoy in Karlskrona as it was the annual Archipelago Festival with various entertainments, games competitions, music, food and so on.

Circus training for young children at the Archipelago Festival
On Saturday afternoon we took the local bus to the nearby settlement of Nattraby. This was a very attractive extended village. It is on the coast so we saw the arrival of the historic ferry "Axel" which comes from Karlskrona three times a day.

Axel in the approach to Nattraby
By Sunday morning the wind had abated a little and we were keen to move on so we decided to head for one of the outlying islands, Hasslo. It is fair to say that this was a rather lumpy passage especially once we were in open sea. We had to head into a still strong E wind and once we were into open waters the sea was moderate at best. But Hasslo was only 11nm, approaching 3 hours, in these conditions. The final approach was a buoyed passage between numerous rocky shoals but was fine and then we were into calmer waters as we entered the small harbour at Garpahamen. I started visually checking for a place to moor, taking a circuit around the harbour and within a short time the depth under the keel dropped rapidly until we were aground on mud! Twenty minutes of engine running, lightweight anchor being deployed (to haul us into deeper water), then rocking up and down on the bow eventually freed us and we returned to deeper water and then to the top of the harbour alongside a pleasant and helpful Danish couple. A cycle around the island took us about 90 minutes but confirmed how keen the Swedes are on having their summer houses.
View of the approach to Hasslo from the harbour breakwater
Our next passage was 16nm E down the coast to Ronnebyhamn and by now the wind had abated to F4/5 (maximum about 20kn) and it had turned SW so we got in a little sailing and then motor sailing. Again the final approach over the last three miles involved close attention to buoys keeping us off the rocky outcrops and finally a very shallow area where at times we had less than 0.5m beneath the keel. But Ronnebyhamn was a very pleasant small coastal community and we tied up with a lovely view across the water.
View across to Karon from the marina
 We did cycle the 5km to Ronneby and decided that the town was rather ordinary, with some attractive older properties but quite a few relatively modern nondescript additions particularly amongst the shops. In addition the planners had clearly paid homage to the highwaymen and busy roads crisscrossed the town seemingly needlessly. The following day we took the ferry a short ride across to the island of Karon. Apparently most of the 30 or so homes here were built in the 18th century and the island is very unspoilt. No traffic, no facilities, no shops or cafes, so a very pleasant ramble along tracks and through woods around the island.
Summer House on Karon
After a couple of days time to move E again. A choice here. we could either return to the open sea, set a course due E and then near our destination head N; or we could weave our way between many rocks and islands within the Hallaryd archipelago. In fact, we learnt later, there are over 270 inlets and islands of various sizes with rocky or craggy shores, broad-leaf copses and meadow lands in the Archipelago. By now the wind had eased down to around 10 kn or so and we decided to test our navigational skills and follow the inside route. It certainly brought us up close to many islands and rocks and with opportunities to see the bird life at close quarters. But we did have to concentrate to keep finding the next channel marker and keep us on course.
Passing a rocky island in the archipelago
After 16nm we turned into a sailing club harbour, Hafen Svanevik, just outside Karlshamn. What a delightful place. Not very big, quiet and with lovely views across to some of the islands.
The sailing club Hafen Svanevik at Karshanmn
A walk around the coast took us into the town of Karlshamn where there were some characterful old buildings as well as a few less characterful new ones! Like other places in this part of Sweden it has been part of Denmark at times. passed over as a naval port in favour of Karlskrona, it turned to overseas trading and built very profitable businesses.  The town streets were still adorned with flags and bunting from their recent festival. Especially delightful was the discovery in the adjacent Fish Harbour of a fishmongers and smokery. A few purchases were made and they were very good indeed. The following morning we cycled N along the coast along roads through the woods to small villages before returning and buying more (not smoked) fresh fish for dinner.
Cycling along a road through the woods
Friday morning was sunny and still and we motored 9 miles S to the small island of Hano. The island is only about 2km x 1km and lies about 10nm off the nearest part of the Swedish coast.The island is a large rock of granite with a very unusual natural environment. Whilst the higher parts are large slabs and boulders of granit, lower levels are woods or scrub. Apparently these were formally part of the sea before water levels reduced. We walked on the footpaths around the island before and after lunch. Some of these are granite chippings, some covered in moss or grass requiring you to walk over granite rocks.
Granite rock, trees and scrub on Hano
We climbed to the summit to see the short lighthouse with (so they say) the strongest light in the Baltic. In addition we visited the English Cemetery. This is a piece of naval history dating from 1810-12 during the Napoleonic wars when Hano served as an English naval base. The cemetery contains an unknown number of graves of English sailors.
The Cemetery
Cemetery plaque
The ferry arrives half a dozen times a day, mainly bringing day trippers as there is little accommodation. The only facilities (around the harbour) are a restaurant and cafe, very small and limited shop, ice cream kiosk and a museum.. But it is all very friendly and welcoming.
We awoke on Saturday morning to find that it was foggy; or a soup as the German sailor tied up in front of us said as we peered over the harbour wall into the murk! But the poorer visibility wasn't stopping the swifts swooping over the harbour searching for breakfast. During a rest break quite a few took a few minutes resting on our guard rails seemingly oblivious to us.

Around 0900 we decided to cast off, feeling that we had a potentially longer passage and that this was an area with few big ships. Then right outside the harbour out of the fog appeared a small freighter seemingly waiting to come alongside. After about an hour the fog began to lift and the wind increased so that we were able to first motor sail then dispense with the engine. During the rest of the passage the wind swung between F2 (about 6kn) and F5 (maximum 25kn) making reefing in or letting sails out a regular occurrence. It took nearly 8 hours to cover the 38nm to Simrishamn near the foot of Sweden's E coast, but we found space in the quite spread out marina adjacent to the fishing harbour. For only the second time this summer (apart from our base at Fehmarn) we came across a British sailor, this being Andy on “Hoppetosse”. Over evening drinks on our boat later we learnt that he was on his way back from Helsinki to Fehmarn.
Simrishamn is a town of mainly smaller houses, with some very attractive cobbled streets. 

Typical Simrishamn
In a self-guided tour (courtesy of the Tourist Bureau) we discovered a few of these homes many with the traditional Simrishamn door.
The Simrishamn door!
There is a very big fishing harbour, with a fleet of around 20 boats, although these are probably much below the peak. We had fish and chipped potatoes on an old fishing boat converted to a cheap and cheerful restaurant for lunch. Not so cheap being Sweden of course. Fairly ordinary fish and fried potatoes, with a pint (well 500ml) and a half of local lager was about £28 for the two of us.
Monday produced another sunny morning and we set off for Ystad, just over 30nm away on the S coast. We had brisk winds and although the wind direction was unfavourable at times we were able to sail most of the way and motor sailed when we tired of beating into the wind.
Ystad has a ferry port from where services depart to Bornholm and freight to Poland. It is also an important passage port for leisure sailors being strategically placed in the middle of Sweden's S coast. It is a town of some size with a busy shopping centre and some fine historic buildings. Many buildings and courtyards are very reminiscent of those found in Denmark; hardly surprising as this part of Sweden was part of Denmark for many years.

Attractive courtyard with cafes in Ystad
Even the typical tourist "trains" that take sightseers around the town do not ply their trade here. Instead there are circuits of the town in an old fire engine or two! 
Tourist trip fire engine (behind the smaller fire engine dating from the 1930s)
Traditional street with hollyhocks in full bloom - just like Denmark!

We are leaving the boat here for 5 days to return to England for the wedding of one of Andrea's nephews. Ystad has a train station very near the marina and with one change we can get to Copenhagen Airport. Looking forward to crossing The (Oresund) Bridge on a train!  

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